The Pleasanton City Council is scheduled to revisit and potentially vote on several items during their regular meeting on Tuesday, including approval of the 2023-31 Housing Element and another public hearing on proposed local election boundaries.
A second public hearing on drafting council district boundaries will take place at the Jan. 18 council meeting, starting just after 7 p.m. Council members will take comments from "residents and interested community groups," in order to "understand the community's view of appropriate district boundaries" and "determine which criteria will be used to create one or more proposed district maps," according to a staff report.
Pleasanton is one of several local jurisdictions to recently transition from at-large to district-based elections, in conformance with the California Voting Rights Act, including the Pleasanton Unified School District and Dublin San Ramon Services District.
Starting in the November general election, the city will be divided into four separate council districts, with each district represented by one council member elected by voters living in those boundaries. Each council member will be required to live in the district they represent, but the position of mayor will still be elected at-large.
Using state and federal guidelines, the council will create four districts, each with approximately 20,000 residents. The districts are ideally "geographically contiguous," and "bounded by natural and artificial barriers, by streets, or by the boundaries of the city," among other criteria.
Residents are "free to make any comments they feel are relevant to the city's districting process," but staff said focusing on communities of interest or neighborhoods they feel should remain intact is helpful.
A community of interest is a local population that shares common social, economic or cultural interests, that staff said "should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation." Political parties, incumbents or political candidates are not considered communities of interest.
Other proposed questions to help facilitate council discussion include whether districts should be drawn "that have a broad range of different land uses," and if there are any areas of growth, or natural or man made geographical boundaries, that are important for consideration.
Following Tuesday's hearing, the city's hired demographer will create one or more draft maps, which will be posted for public comment and review at two more hearings on Feb. 3 and 24.
In other business
** More than a year after city officials started identifying suitable sites for future rezoning and housing development, the council will vote this Tuesday on a final sites inventory list.
The 28 sites will be included in the environmental analysis as part of the Sites Inventory for the sixth cycle Housing Element update. City officials are required to identify the sites as part of meeting the state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 5,965 new units.
Using site selection criteria, staff prepared the list of potential housing sites over the past year, analyzing and assigning and rank and score for each site. After several meetings at the housing and planning commissions, as well as a community meeting last month, the housing inventory list was recommended for council approval.
More than half of the sites on the inventory are marked for high-density development such as the Stoneridge Shopping Center, Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare, Hacienda Terrace, Metro 580 and SteelWave sites. A property owned by the Pleasanton Unified School District in southeastern Pleasanton on Vineyard Avenue, as well as the Lester site are among those designated low to medium density. Both Valley and Mission plazas are also on the site inventory list.
** The council will revisit a postponed discussion on state legislation related to local control and housing on Tuesday. Originally scheduled for Jan. 4, staff will give an overview of a proposed ballot initiative to amend the California State Constitution in regard to land use or zoning.
According to a staff report, the proposed amendment – called Initiative 21-0016 – "provides that city and county land use and zoning laws override all conflicting state laws," with three noted exceptions. Those include circumstances related to the California Coastal Act of 1976; the siting of power plants; and development of water, communication, or transportation infrastructure projects.
The final version of the initiative "prevents the state legislature and local legislative bodies from passing laws invalidating voter-approved local land-use or zoning initiatives," according to staff, and "prohibits the state from changing, granting, or denying funding to local governments based on their implementation of this measure."
The League of California Cities, which staff called the city's "key advocacy partner," has recommended adopting a "no" stance on the initiative. Though the council is not prohibited from taking a stance on ballot initiatives, staff said "past practice has generally been to refrain from taking a position" until the initiative is formally placed on the ballot.
Staff has recommended that the council not take a position until they've had more time to study the initiative "and determine if there are any unintended consequences related to this ballot measure."